28 Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam Family Cruise Reviews

Chose this 12 day cruise/land journey for a 35th wedding anniversary for my wife and I. Never been on a cruise or extended vacation like this before. Cruise was enjoyable but did not know what to really expect since this was our first ... Read More
Chose this 12 day cruise/land journey for a 35th wedding anniversary for my wife and I. Never been on a cruise or extended vacation like this before. Cruise was enjoyable but did not know what to really expect since this was our first cruise. We had a window in our room to watch the ocean. A balcony would have been better but for a first time on a cruise and for only 3 days it was nice. The land journey portion of the trip was fun and exciting. We visited Skagway, Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, Denali Park, and Anchorage. Most of the motor coaches were comfortable with nice leg room and good visibility except for the last one we rode on. Weather was relatively good and we did get to see Denali with no clouds or weather to obstruct it. The last leg of our journey was to be an 8 hour ride in the glass domed train from Denali to Anchorage. Due to wildfires the train was shut down and we were loaded on motor coaches for a 12 hour ride back to Fairbanks and around another highway to Anchorage. This particular motor coach was not real comfortable. The seats were stacked closer together which meant less leg room and the climate controls did not work very well. The windows continually fogged up and you could not see outside. We were herded through a little roadhouse for lunch, which the food was good but hardly room to sit down and eat. None the less, the train trip from Denali to Anchorage was one of the major reasons we booked this particular trip and to not be able to experience it was extremely disappointing. I realize that wildfires are beyond their control but that bus ride was 12 hours of hell. It put a bad taste in our mouth for what was to have been a pretty good trip. Holland America got my money so I guess that was the most important thing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was my second trip to Alaska and my first time on Holland America. I was really impressed with this beautiful ship. It looked fresh and felt luxurious. There were plenty of elevators and lots of quiet places throughout the ship ... Read More
This was my second trip to Alaska and my first time on Holland America. I was really impressed with this beautiful ship. It looked fresh and felt luxurious. There were plenty of elevators and lots of quiet places throughout the ship where one could settle in with a good book. The only time it felt crowded was peak times in the buffet. I liked having breakfast and lunch in the dining room. They served steak and lobster on the 2nd gala night and it was very good. Other Dining Room menu items for dinner were hit and miss. The buffet was typical. I noticed they didn't have trays and the staff dished up most of the food for you, which I didn't really like but apparently it reduces the incidence of illness. Unlike some other cruise lines I've been on, there didn't seem to be any theme nights in the buffet. We dined in Canaletto, the Italian specialty restaurant, one night and the food and service were first rate. I liked the films and talks showcasing Alaska. There were none of those dreadful "Vegas type" shows. There was an illusionist one night and a comedian. There was a dance group but it didn't appeal to me and I left. I loved the Lincoln Centre Stage featuring a piano quintette from Hungary and also the B.B. King Blues club. We had lots of fun at Trivia and Music Trivia. The staff were helpful, friendly and service oriented although I found sometimes there was quite a wait to get a drink. Speaking of drinks, I discovered the Ginger Mule and will ask for that next time. I didn't get off the ship in Juneau but took the White Pass and Yukon trip in Skagway and the Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feast in Ketchikan. Both through the ship and both very expensive. Converted to Canadian funds the cost was around $500.00. Our party included a 12 year old and a 16 year old. The younger one had a blast but we worried there didn't seem to be much for the teen. However, she said at the end that she would love to do another cruise. I had wheelchair assistance embarking and disembarking as I am on supplemental oxygen and the batteries don't last too long. I really appreciated this service. Disembarking was really well organized, probably the best I've ever experienced. All in all, a lovely week with family and friends. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Choose this cruise as a last minute, 7 day NYE getaway with family group. We knew HAL is reputed to cater to more mature cruisers so with that knowledge the young adult members of our group of 9 were not overly impressed. They did find ... Read More
Choose this cruise as a last minute, 7 day NYE getaway with family group. We knew HAL is reputed to cater to more mature cruisers so with that knowledge the young adult members of our group of 9 were not overly impressed. They did find enough to keep them entertained in casino & on New Years Eve. The ship was clean and nicely furnished but nothing that really awed me. Food was average, but like most lines, the food has gone down in quality since catering to pay for dining rooms. Room service was good. Service was very good & staff was friendly. I found it more difficult to get port information as I could not make their info session on stage. Most ships I have been on have a TV channel devoted to ports of call, but i couldn't locate one on this ship. In room movie selection was very good. We loved the piano bar & it's proximity to the casino. I did find the atmosphere on the ship relaxing. I have been on 5 other HAL cruises & think they are a good value but not a lot of bells & whistles, especially on the pool decks like many of the other lines. I like the size of their ships. Boarding was easy, but Ft. Lauderdale port is rather chaotic, especially with 7 other ships there. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Good price,good timing for a getaway,previous good experiences with Holland America. Food and service is always good. BB Kings blues band plays in a lounge most nights 8 pc band always exceptional not just blues but 60’s Motown,and pop ... Read More
Good price,good timing for a getaway,previous good experiences with Holland America. Food and service is always good. BB Kings blues band plays in a lounge most nights 8 pc band always exceptional not just blues but 60’s Motown,and pop .Next to the casino is billboard 2 pianos and vocalists playing requests, old hits , some sing along.Casino is friendly not bad for a cruise ship. Lincoln Center on stage is the place for classical music. Cello violin and such.The main stage has a different act every night, although this is where HAL needs the most improvement The ships singers and dancers and show just ok. Acts such as comedian and or magician not very good. Four ports of call not bad for a seven day cruise. On this particular cruise we were unable to tender to their private island because of rough seas, but we have been there before it’s a great beach day with free bbq. Private beach set up really nice. They also have beach houses for rent which I never thought would be worth it for a half day outing. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on ... Read More
My wife and I were on Holland America's Niew Amsterdam for its 18-day cruise through the Panama Canal, departing San Diego October 3, 2018 and arriving in Ft. Lauderdale on the 21st. Though we had many good-to-great experiences on this voyage we also had far too many disappointing ones. Highlights of the good-to-great experiences are as follows: 1. The ship's decor is spectacular, a feast for the eyes, beautifully color-coordinated with attractive furniture, fixtures and (especially) carpeting. 2. Staff universally were dedicated to pleasing passengers. Theirs was a "can do" attitude, always served with a smile. 3. Though a large ship (2,000+ passengers), it never felt crowded and there was never a sense of having to stand in long lines. Even entering and exiting the ship was an effortless process, always well-managed. 4. Even with winds and relatively high swells no one seemed to get motion-sick. The ship was wonderfully stable at all speeds. 5. Entertainment was excellent, especially the five young women (playing two violins, one viola, one cello and one piano) in the Lincoln Center Stage and the two individuals playing piano at night in the Billboard Lounge. The Holland America singers and dancers in the Main Stage also were excellent at their crafts. 6. There were many dining venues. Ratings below are from 1 (average) to 4 (excellent): Food Quality Service Value Lido Buffet--2 1 3 Main Dining--6 2 2 Tamarind--3 4 4 3 Pinnacle Grill--2 4 4 3 Canaletto--3 3 4 3 Sel de Mer--2 4 4 3 There were upcharges ranging from $15 per person at Canaletto to $49 per person at Rudi's Sel de Mer. A value rating was given only to the last four restaurants, which were the upcharge restaurants. The numbers following each restaurant's name are the number of nights we ate there. In total we spent $596 in upcharge costs on this trip. Having one bad experience aboard a Holland America ship is understandable and acceptable. Nothing is perfect. However, we had eight experiences that were disappointing (spa, hydropool, food quality in Lido buffet and Main Dining, smoking on ship, bingo, ports of call scheduled, ports skipped and our excursion-related drop-off at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. 1.Spa services were seriously over-priced and spa staff members were unpleasantly aggressive in selling spa products and services. Spa promotions appeared at first blush to offer real bargains but the fine print said otherwise. My wife and I had two couples massages, both of which were fine for my wife. My first massage was so mechanical in was not at all relaxing, so I requested a different therapist for the second one and she was fine. The first therapist was extremely pushy in selling me skin products, which I promptly returned (unused) three days after I'd purchased them. The spa staff person reluctantly processing my refund made it clear she was not happy with my return. 2. The spa's hydropool was OK but was incredibly over-priced. We were not familiar with the Niew Amsterdam's hydropool but assumed it was as large and enjoyable as the one on the Holland American's Koningsdam, which it was not. At $599 for the entire cruise--no daily pricing offered-the hydropool was a total ripoff. We and one other couple apparently were the only two families naive enough to pay $599 so we had the hydropool to ourselves the entire cruise. 3. If the food in the Lido Buffet and Main Dining had been better we would not have gone to the upcharge restaurants so frequently, far more often than we originally intended to do, spending an unbudgeted $596 as a result. 4. Smoking was permitted on the aft deck of the ship on the same level as the Sea View swimming pools, one of the two pools on this ship. We would have enjoyed using that pool because it was not covered by a roof, and it was wide open in terms of views whereas the main pool was enclosed on four sides. Also, the main pool became hot and humid when the roof was covered, which happened frequently. 5. Bingo was over-priced and my perception is that it was literally impossible to win the large cash prize until the last day bingo was played. Consequently, passengers who played bingo daily in order to try winning the large prize (growing from about $1,400 to about $2,200 at the end) spent a lot of money buying cards that probably could not win until the last day, when numbers continued to be called until a winner yelled "bingo!" I say "probably could not win" for two reasons. First, to cover 24 squares (plus "free") within the first 50 numbers called is mathematically almost impossible. Second, because the ship knew which cards were being played it would be easy to program the electronics of the numbers being called to assure that those numbers ensure no one could win. 6. As readers can learn by reading the itinerary for this cruise, the ports of call are not all that great to begin with. We have cruised on Holland America at least seven or eight times and another 5 to 10 times on other ships so we should have known better than to select this cruise. It fit conveniently into our schedules, and included the Panama Canal, but we could have chosen better. 7. We had more sea days than planned (10 days on an 18-day cruise when we had no opportunity to go ashore, versus 8 days originally scheduled as Sea days). High winds prevented the ship from entering one port in Mexico and in another port (Coast Rica) high swells prevented passengers from boarding the ship's tenders for the ride to shore. Both decisions reflected the captain's concerns for the health and safety of the passengers and crew. Nonetheless, Holland America could have offered some token as recompense for the missed ports, but did not. 8. Because we would be getting off the ship October 21 at 8:30 a.m. and our flight home was not until after 5 p.m. we signed up for a four-hour land and sea excursion, which was delightful. The bad part about it was the tour director, Bonnie, having the bus driver take her back to her car, which was parked at the port, before the driver took 40-50 of us to the airport. When we got to the airport two things happened. First, there were some missed luggage issues, eventually corrected with the help of other bus drivers, because our driver spoke virtually no english. The tour director should have been on our bus, at the airport, to resolve those problems instantly. Second, in sending us off to the airport Bonnie said I was to exit the bus at the third of three stops, but using mainly gestures the driver insisted we exit at the second stop, which turned out to be considerably farther from our check-in counter than the third stop would have been. By dumping us out at the second stop the driver then had an empty bus and could skip the third stop. It was a long walk, up an incline, for me. And if a kind airport employee had not offered to get a wheelchair for my wife it would have been a much longer and tougher walk for her. Overall our cruise had many attractive and enjoyable features. Unfortunately, it also had far too many disappointing experiences. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, ... Read More
We were on the June 30, 2018 sailing of the Nieuw Amsterdam from Vancouver to the inside passage (including Glacier Bay). This was our third time on Holland America and our second Alaska cruise (the other in 2000 on Princess). Bottomline, I wouldn't hesitate booking this ship/itinerary based on our experience. For the most part, it was all very good. We did our own air and stayed at the Auberge Vancouver both pre and post stay. I would recommend this hotel for this purpose. With four-wheel luggage, it was easy to walk from the hotel to the cruise check in - even in a slight misty rain. The hotel is in a tall mixed-use building that includes condos, retail, and the hotel. There is no room service, and the free breakfast offered is limited--but for cost/convenience it was the right choice for us. (The others being the far pricier Fairmont or Pan Pacific.) Front desk folks were very helpful. Embarkation was very confusing to get our luggage dropped off. Granted we tried to board early and the offloading was still going on. Based on what pier workers told us there isn't a set place for each ship/sailing to drop off luggage - which sounds crazy given this ship makes the same trip every week. But once we found the location to drop off the luggage the rest was pretty well managed by HA. Just bring your patience with you. We were onboard by 11:15a or so, and our cabin was ready before noon. Lunch in the main dining room was the way to go, as the Lido was a zoo. We rented two Lido Cabanas for this trip (two couples), which was a great choice. It gave us a place to hang out and our steward was excellent. Granted we tipped him well at the start and throughout the cruise, but he waited on us like kings. For Alaska, I would do this again in a heartbeat. (Cost $199 per cabana for the week.) I didn't see anyone in the Retreat Cabanas all week. Food in the main dining room was very good. We ate at the Tamarid the first night (catch the first night 'special' when you get onboard at 25% discount.) The Pinnacle was good, but not as good as our memory of the meal on the Eurodam a few years ago. The Pizza, burgers, and hot dogs all got good reviews from our group. I think the best options for Lido is to get a customized food (ommlete, salad, etc.) made to order. Otherwise, the food we had was just fair. Be sure to at least order coffee via room service, as it is so nice to sit outside sipping your coffee in the morning. (Room Service breakfast was very good too.) Entertainment: We only saw the Billboard night production, which was just OK - but less than you will see on most ships. We missed the illusionist and comedian, so can't comment on that. The orchestra played the score of an Alaska nature movie one night, and it was very good. BB Kings and the dueling pianos were both excellent. We went to the pianos (Billboard) every night. Lots of fun. I also loved America's Test Kitchen classes they had on sea days. The bar drinks were disappointing, and never found the bar or bartender that could whip up something great. Our best bar experience by far was in the Tamirid Bar--as far as quality of drinks - but it was also the worst service. We finally just started going to the bar ourselves rather than have the bar waiter take our order. The Tamirid Bar isn't crowded and has incredible views. The Crows Nest has been ruined with all the new junk they have up there. This space in the past was our 'go to spot' in the past, but not anymore. #fail Holland America. Drink specials were only in two bars at 4pm and 11:30pm - BOGO +$2. Why bother having one at 11:30p on a HA ship?? As many have commented, everything seemed to be a ploy to get you to spend more money--which I don't think is unique to Holland America. The info left in your rooms about buying jewelry was overwhelming and the only port info was a push to go to cruise stores in port. Sad it has come to that. Our shore excursions (not with the cruise line) were with Harv and Marv in Juneau in the 6 person boat. Excellent!! We did a taxi to Mendenhall in Juneau. Excellent!! We did the White Pass (one way to Frasier) in Skagway and stopped off at the Skagway Brewery for a post-excursion drink. Both were great. All that said, I would go again tomorrow -- and would recommend this ship and itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
It has been a few years since I sailed on Holland America as friends have chosen Princess and family is now happier on Disney. First, let me say that the boarding process was very good and my room was ready when I boarded right around ... Read More
It has been a few years since I sailed on Holland America as friends have chosen Princess and family is now happier on Disney. First, let me say that the boarding process was very good and my room was ready when I boarded right around noon. The ship was spotless and the crew was among the best I have encountered in 20+ cruises. Why does this review say "very good" instead of "Excellent"? The fact is that at age 70 I am not content to sit around and vegetate when I really want activities and participation. Both of the aforementioned cruise lines seem to be better at making things happen as opposed to letting me sit and watch things. The shows were OK, but not great. The selection of entertainment was somewhat limited compared to the bigger ships I have been on but that is not always true for ships of this size. Even the comparable ships from other lines have multiple lounges and game areas. If I want to learn to play the Ukulele, or sing in a choir or make balloon animals or fold towels or try out the water slide or glide along the zip line, it's nice to have the choice to do so as opposed to listening to lectures or performances. There was not even a good dance band that I can think of. Food in the main dining room was very good as was the lido deck fare. The Holland private island is a great place and has to be included as part of the cruise experience although it is still a tender port wasting time compared to others. In short, love the ship and the staff, while to that pleased with the opportunities to have fun. For a cruise in the Mediterranean or Asia where the ports are historic and full of culture this would be an appropriate transport. For a week in the Caribbean I'd have to look at other options closely and weigh the benefits carefully. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
7 days were all we had for a cruise. We love Holland America so this cruise fit the bill. The itinerary really didn’t have anything to do with the decision. Embarkation was quick and efficient. Our room was ready when we arrived at ... Read More
7 days were all we had for a cruise. We love Holland America so this cruise fit the bill. The itinerary really didn’t have anything to do with the decision. Embarkation was quick and efficient. Our room was ready when we arrived at 11:30. We were able to drop our carry ons and get the cruise started with a nice lunch in the dining room. Sail Away was nice with lots of waiters to take drink orders and pass hors d’oeuvres. Unfortunately there were not many places to sit so it was a lot of standing. We were three adults in a cabin and it worked surprisingly well. There was enough space for our clothing and the cabin steward was quick to bring extra hangers. The pull out bed was comfortable. The only downside to using the pullout was that it blocked the balcony door. We ate dinners in the main dining room with the exception of one meal in the Pinnacle Grill. All of the food and service were excellent. Portion sizes have gotten a bit smaller over the years and we really prefer that. Since you can order as much as you want, you will never go hungry, but with reasonable portion sizes you don’t need to feel stuffed or leave food on the plates to go to waste. The entertainment was very good. HAL has gotten much better in this department over the years. The doors to the stage venue didn’t open until a half hour before the show and there was always a line to get in. This was only a real issue on the two nights that they had only one show. The new music walk offers music for everyone. The ports were fine (Key West, Grand Turk, and Half Moon Cay). We missed Amber Cove due to bad weather conditions. Half Moon Cay with its beautiful blue waters and soft white sand was a highlight. The ship was great, service was excellent, and food outstanding, however, we would not choose a seven day cruise nor a Caribbean cruise again due to personal preference. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Family cruise of 9 people. The boat was fabulous and the service and food outstanding. We had reservations for the upgraded dining, but cancelled them after determining the food in the formal dining was very, very good. The crew was ... Read More
Family cruise of 9 people. The boat was fabulous and the service and food outstanding. We had reservations for the upgraded dining, but cancelled them after determining the food in the formal dining was very, very good. The crew was fantastic and always attentive. The ports of call were OK. Key West was fun, Grand Turks was VERY disappointing. We rented a golf cart to see the island and it was not as expected. Don't think this is the resort portion of Turks and Caicos. It is very poor and dirty. We should have stayed at the port where the cruise line has a pool and beach chairs in front of a very pretty beach. Would not do this port again. The next port was Dominican Republic which was cancelled due to rain and high winds. We heard this was the third time it was cancelled in the past few months. You would think the cruise line would not pick this port in the spring. So, we had two sailing days that were OK. The Bahamas island was nice, but yet again it was another beach to pay on. Two of the people in our party scheduled snorkeling which was cancelled due to water being too choppy. All in all, the cruise was good. However, I am done with Caribbean cruises since the ports are not that great. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Went with a family group (3 generations) for a special birthday celebration of a grandparent. Went along for the ride but we did not pick cruise, etc. We enjoyed the cruise overall and had set our expectations for activities for kids ... Read More
Went with a family group (3 generations) for a special birthday celebration of a grandparent. Went along for the ride but we did not pick cruise, etc. We enjoyed the cruise overall and had set our expectations for activities for kids going in advance (ages 4-14yo in our group). Service was excellent in the rooms. A bit disappointed in embarkation and customer service as we had two problems: somehow they didn't apply our card that/payment that we used in the port at embarkation. So after getting charges denied a few times had to make trip to add it. Not a huge deal but not how you want to spend your time. Then, they continued to miss me as a named guest in our room even though TA submitted all my info in advance. So, that caused trouble with names on excursions, and charges for room. Club Hal was ok- staff seemed a bit rigid that we were dropping by for info first night but had missed the Orientation first afternoon. Not easy to make if you've just boarded, are eating, finding way around cruise. Ultimately, we didn't use it for the 6 kids in our group at all. If it is important to you age groups in clubs were different than cited on website. No paper schedules available and we were told to check the schedule on tv in room for ClubHal activities. Great when its working but it was one day behind on all data (port, menu, etc.) the first few days at least so that was no help. No pager or way to contact parents like on other cruises. They seemed like they might be accomodating to my special needs kid if he passed muster but they were quick to state they didn't have an extra crew member to take care of him and I would have to be with him if not. I get it and I wasn't requesting that. A little offputting since they advertise on the front of ClubHal that they accomodate special needs kids. My son would have done fine but that might have been a disappointing surprise to others upon arriving if hoping to have a break from the kids. I had made attempts to ask questions and inform them in advance of the cruise. Worked out ok but a bit disappointing. Activities for kids that we saw on board were 1 family pool, 2 ping pong tables, sports court, board games and advanced puzzles for more mature kids in Crows Nest. There was a BINGO contest or two but we missed it. Ironically didn't ever see shuffleboard either. Worked for us with cousins to visit with but might fall short to others. Many excursions had age limits that could have been limiting for kids under 8 or so too. Would want to read that in advance. Liked that they had Mass on Sundays and daily though that was not easy to confirm in advance. Decent entertainment but repeated later in the week (e.g. comedian) and only 1 main production (e.g. no Lincoln Center Orchestra and Planet Earth(?) movie per night- downfall of smaller boat maybe? Not many bars open past 830 or 9pm either. They existed but had to go find them in casino or Crow's Nest I think. Food was good and one of the better things about the cruise but not the reason to go. Ate in main dining room(MDR) as a group with two tables near each other for a scheduled early seating (530pm) a number of nights. The first night it took forever to even get drinks, menus and then for food to come. We were lucky to be done around 745 or 8pm when they were signaling to leave for the next seating every time. Had kids from 4yo+ so not for the faint of heart or with extreme wiggles : ) Ate in Lido Market a lot and that was pretty good. Lots of variety and broader hours. Nice cabin but not a fan that of the design that all Quad Rooms on HAL have the 4th bed over the 2 singles that make a Queen. Worked ok but no room to even sit up a little underneath vs maybe 4ft of clearance above the bunk. A few bumped heads by all. Cabin seemed a bit dated in terms of a piece of the divider between cabins on the balcony shook free first day and made horrible sound. They were able to fix with some towels wedged in for the rest of the cruise. Also, one overhead storage wouldn't stay up and kept slamming closed. Data on television not working first few days at least- heard their satellite was out but would think there might be a backup plan. May be true of all cruises but was really hard to hear announcements in room and around ship. A downfall of this cruise was the times we were in Cozumel. We arrived at 11am and left at 11pm. We were the last cruise ship in I think and most things had closed down or were pretty dead between 8-9p near the port (except for a few vendors right by dock). Many nearby parks closed at 430pm. So, not a ton to do if you weren't on a late day excursion except catch a cab and eat out if you were even venturing away from dock/port area. Check schedule in advance if you care about time there. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We have sailed with Holland America in the past and chose this cruise for the itinerary. it was my husband and myself. We are in our mid 40's and enjoy this cruise line because it's quiet with few children. We chose a late ... Read More
We have sailed with Holland America in the past and chose this cruise for the itinerary. it was my husband and myself. We are in our mid 40's and enjoy this cruise line because it's quiet with few children. We chose a late hotel check out the day of embarkment and arrived at the port at 1. The process to check in at this time was less than 15 mins. There was no line at security or check in. The staff at Port Everglades staff was friendly, efficient, and knowledgeable. The ship had recently been refurbished and was elegantly decorated. The ship was clean and set up similarly to other ships. The atrium was the smallest we have ever seen, but was comfortable and beautifully decorated. We were a disappointed in the food selection on this cruise. We typically eat all meals in the dining room , but ate most nights in the Lido as there were no choices we wanted. The Lido served A LOT of pork. The food was tasty just not good selection. They had great fruit. Desserts were disappointing, but the ice cream was good. We ate 1 evening in a specialty restaurant, the pinnacle Grill. The food here was great. We chose the crab legs and had the biggest shrimp we have ever seen in our shrimp cocktail appetizer. We ate breakfast in our room several morning which was ok. the selection is a little better than during previous cruises. The food temp was fair and the milk was always warm. The production shows were typical with average singing and dancing. The comedian was great and the highlight of the evening shows. The illusionist/magician was pretty self absorb and proud of himself. The staff was all friendly and helpful. Our room stewards were hard to understand but did a great job in our room and was friendly. They knew our names. We were pleased with them. We loved all of the ports. We missed Half moon Cay as the water was to rough to tender in. We have visited this island before and is beautiful. It was definitely disappointing we missed it. We love to snorkel and had our best experience in Grand Turk and Bonaire. We booked all of our excursions our self except in Dominican Republic. We like to avoid the cruise ship crowds. in the Dominican Republic we booked a catamaran snorkel tour through the ship. It was a rainy day and the water rough, but was a better day than we would of had in cold Iowa. in Gran Turk we booked a snorkel trip with Exclusive Escapes Tours. We would highly recommend them. We took a water taxi to Klein Bonaire in Bonaire to snorkel. This was awesome. You can get a water taxi ticket int he tents located by the cruise pier. At Aruba we got a day pass to the Barcelo Aruba hotel. Great beach, good food, lovely place. We used the cruise line transfer service to get from the ship to the airport. This a pretty smooth process. We also used luggage direct which is well worth the small fee. Using this service the cruise line checks you in for your flight, and takes your luggage to the airport. it's nice to not have to check in luggage at the airport. We have never had an issue with our luggage not getting to our final location. We like Princess cruise line better, but would not avoid Holland America if the itinerary was good. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Our family had a wonderful time on our Alaskan cruise last week on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We are a family of four (kids are 11 and 13). This was our first time in Alaska and we were all blown away by the beautiful scenery and exciting ... Read More
Our family had a wonderful time on our Alaskan cruise last week on the Nieuw Amsterdam. We are a family of four (kids are 11 and 13). This was our first time in Alaska and we were all blown away by the beautiful scenery and exciting excursions (helicopters, trains, float planes, walking on an iceberg, bear watching...wow! Alaska was spectacular). THE SHIP: This is only our second cruise as a family; we were on a Celebrity Mediterranean cruise with our kids last summer. We chose the Nieuw Amsterdam for Alaska on our wonderful travel agent's recommendation because it met the criteria we were looking for (we didn't have much flexibility on our dates, really wanted an itinerary that would visit Glacier Bay which many ships don't have permits for, and wanted a large suite with a large balcony that we would all be comfortable on if we wanted to do sightseeing from our balcony or eat a meal from room service in our room.) Our agent, who worked for HAL for many years in the past, encouraged us to consider the NA because it met all our requirements and we could book a PS for a more reasonable price than on the other lines we were looking at for our dates. He warned us that HAL has a reputation for having a much older clientele than all the other mainstream lines and helped us have realistic expectations about what to expect ahead of time so we were not disappointed by the lack of ziplines and waterslides on board. The ship was tastefully decorated with a NY theme and had a relatively calm vibe for a cruise ship. Our suite was huge with plenty of room for everyone and a great balcony with seating for all of us to be outside at once with our binoculars. The ship's main pool had a retractable roof which was a big hit as everyone could enjoy it even on the cold day in glacier bay. The pool usually had plenty of loungers free so there wasn't a culture of throwing down towels early morning and hoarding seats all day which was refreshing. There are a few little cabanas that can be rented for $50 a day next to that pool that look out to the ocean. The spa onboard was really nice; I didn't book a treatment but did buy the spa pass and highly recommend that as the hydrotherapy pool and steam rooms were fantastic. THE FOOD: Most of the food onboard was good; some was great. Nothing we would seek out on land but there was something for everyone. We ate at the Tamarind, PG and Rudi's Sel de Mer (inside PG one night of the cruise) and all of these were much better than the MDR and Lido in our opinion. We tried the burger quick service next to the pool once and thought it was just ok and our son tried the pizza quick service many times and was happy with that. We had room service a few times and were happy with that as well. We tried to avoid the Lido Buffet as there was a norovirus code red during our cruise and because there were often long lines there. KIDS STUFF: We were told that there were about 100 kids on board which is a lot for HAL but very few for a July Alaska cruise. Our 11 year old son really enjoyed the kids club. The staff was excellent and fun. The physical facility dedicated for the kids was cool and spacious. Typically there were anywhere from 2-20 kids there when we arrived. The age group for him run from 7-12 year olds which seems like too broad a range but I was told that they only divided the kids into further subgroups if there were more kids on board. My 13 year old daughter went by the teen club a few times but it was always empty; usually the counselor staffing the place was all alone. So our daughter spent her free time enjoying the pool, or reading or attending shows and programs with us. Most of the kids on board were very well behaved and supervised by their parents or grandparents with only a handful of exceptions which I think is unfortunately to be expected anywhere these days. One family took all of their children including screaming tiny ones (yikes!) to the specialty dining restaurants which we found really surprising and unfortunate; we asked to be seated as far as possible from them and we were fine but it was a shame that they surely kept others seated near them from enjoying their meals and the specialty restaurant staff didn't seem to intervene. Kids of all ages could often be seen playing in the main pool or at the ping pong tables near the pool and were generally well behaved and friendly. ENTERTAINMENT: We highly recommend the BB King shows; very good quality live music. We didn't attend too many of the shows in the theater. The first night there was a "Magician/Funny Man" in the theater and we asked the concierge if it was family friendly and were told absolutely but we were disappointed that there was no "magic" and some of the jokes were so raunchy that we felt we had to leave (for example, jokes about sex, adultery, condoms, etc). We also attended a show with a duo called Synergy which was ok. After that, we stuck to BB King. On Glacier Bay day, park rangers came on board and did various presentations onboard that we thought were worthwhile. PORTS: We embarked in Vancouver. Stayed at Fairmont across the street from the port which was very convenient as they send your suitcases to the ship for you. We noticed that going through security (after cruise check-in) there was a much shorter line for Global Entry so be sure to look for that if you have GE to save time. We first stopped in Juneau where we did the Whale Watching/Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari; none of us are super serious photographers but chose this because of the small group size and loved it and the guide who was wonderful. In Skagway, we had such a long time in port that we booked two excursions... the train in the morning which was a little boring at times but incredible scenery most of the time (sit on the left side on the way out because even though you will switch seats for the ride back, there is better narration on the way out than back) and then in the afternoon a helicopter ride to walk on a glacier which was incredible fun. In Ketchikan, we did the black bear viewing by floatplane trip in Tongass Forest which we enjoyed although the floatplane ride was a little scary because the Beaver planes used are so ancient but we lived to tell about it and did get to see some beautiful bears. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My family and I attended the Holland America Cruise from July 22nd – July 29th on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship and let me say that is was amazing. The food, staff, rooms and views were wonderful. This review will be broken down by each ... Read More
My family and I attended the Holland America Cruise from July 22nd – July 29th on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship and let me say that is was amazing. The food, staff, rooms and views were wonderful. This review will be broken down by each relevant topic: THE GOOD Food As my first cruise, I must say that the food really blew me away. The most impressive aspect is how they are able to feed 2,000 people a day and offer such a variety of delicious options while maintaining a very high quality and freshness to the food. Everyday had different items available at breakfast, lunch and dinner and dishes were always hot and full. Then at dinner you could go to the included dining room, Manhattan, and they are a well-oiled machine in there turning out fine dining dishes. There was honestly never a point that I was disappointed with the food. Important note, if you have any kind of eating restriction they always accommodated it. In addition, they had plenty of options for kids and would bring it out quickly for them. Simply put, food was amazing! Accommodation Since the ship is only 8 years old, it is has a distinctly modern design and that carries through to all the staterooms we were able to see. Rooms are intelligently designed with ample storage space and fine furnishings. Bathroom was maybe a little small and drab but how much time are you going to spend in there? Most important the beds were supremely comfortable and king size! My only complaint would be the lack of plugins but it is a ship so I can understand this constraint. Also, all drinks in the room are for a steep extra charge so I recommend to people to bring your own water and wine. Staff You can tell that service and hospitality are a top priority for Holland America because the service was second to none at every single interaction we had with staff. Dining staff, cleaning staff, entertainment staff, ship staff…didn’t matter; every single member would smile and say hello/good morning. The dining staff in particular was quite impressive as they would serve hundreds of guest quickly, efficiently and professionally. Every time we had a questions or concern it was addressed immediately. The cleaning staff would even fold the towels into animals every night which was very amusing. Overall, the staff are top notch on this ship! Entertainment There was a vast array of activities available every day. From cooking, athletics, shows, workshops, nature tours and just chilling there was something for everyone. Even the room themselves had a good selection of movies on the TV. The evening also had semi-professional performances from bands, singers, showmen’s and comedians and they were honestly very well done albeit a bit short (1 hour). Of course there was the on-board casino every night but that wasn’t our thing. I do have a few complaints. Firstly, don’t believe their claims of playing tennis and volleyball, the court and equipment are actually quite poor. At best you can play basketball and pickle ball. Secondly, lots of their activities were just disguised sales pitches so beware. THE BAD Wi-Fi THE IS MY SINGLE BIGGEST COMPLAINT that detracted from my experience. Not only is it not free, IT IS RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE. It is $0.75/minute and it is a pretty bad connection speed. Now I’m not saying people want to spend all trip on their computer, but basic things like checking email or googling the shore stops was impossible. Coordinating with your group is also a challenge without Watsapp/Messenger. If New Holland fixes this I will give 10/10. Advertising/Salesmanship From the moment you step on this boat, literally everything is trying to take more money from you. If you weren’t reading properly, be prepared to be charged $13.50 per person per day as a service fee. No drinks are free in the room or on the ship and they push you to buy drink packages. Every night they put pamphlets in the rooms’ mailbox and announce daily on the intercom of other events trying to sell you stuff. The nicer restaurants are not included but you can get by only going to the included one. I recommend you keep your wallet tight and don’t get sucked in! Management I just wanted to make a small note here, but on more than one occasion we witnessed what appeared to be a manager yelling at staff. In our opinion this was not professional or acceptable. The staff on this boat are some of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen and it is not cool to be yelling at them over small details. Please address this! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We returned to Alaska for another Inside Passage cruise aboard another DAM ship! This time was our first cruise aboard a Signature Class vessel. We were spoiled rotten by our wonderful cabin stewards Gede and Rae. In spite of servicing ... Read More
We returned to Alaska for another Inside Passage cruise aboard another DAM ship! This time was our first cruise aboard a Signature Class vessel. We were spoiled rotten by our wonderful cabin stewards Gede and Rae. In spite of servicing 20+ cabins on the Rotterdam deck, they were always smiling, asking if we needed anything, and meeting our every need. Even when DW was a bit under the weather, Gede made a diet suggestion that had her better in no time! Now that's service. The Neptune Lounge concierges, Roses and Lalaine were incredible, making little tweaks here and there, assisting in some MDR issues that were caused by some corporate snafus. We had some first-time cruisers aboard with us and they were totally blown away by the caring, attentive crew. They are HAL fans, big time, now! Nieuw Amsterdam was in fine shape and well maintained while we were aboard. There was a very large group onboard (over 1,000 by their estimate), but aside from the MDR issues (again caused by inaccurate information provided by corporate to the Matre'd), we really weren't impacted by them. I'll also add that the shore staff made embarkation seamless. We were literally in our Neptune Suite by 11:30AM! Alaska, was, well Alaska! Beautiful and awe inspiring. The Inside Passage route is our favorite sailing to the Great Land. We booked our shore excursions directly with the tour vendors and showed the first timers some of our favorite things. We will certainly return to Alaska, and wouldn't hesitate to sail Nieuw Amsterdam again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
We hadn't been on a cruise and always wanted to see Alaska so a round trip from Vancouver seemed a good idea, especially as our son lives there so we combined a visit to see him with the cruise. Vancouver is a beautiful city with ... Read More
We hadn't been on a cruise and always wanted to see Alaska so a round trip from Vancouver seemed a good idea, especially as our son lives there so we combined a visit to see him with the cruise. Vancouver is a beautiful city with plenty to do for a few days before or after the cruise . We have been there before and didn't spend so much time there this time. We no idea what to expect but ha asked friends and look at various forums to get an idea. We weren't sure about clothing given that Alaska can be cold and wet but fortunately for our mid-May trip it was mostly dry and quite warm. The day before the cruise we got an email from HAL saying expect delays embarking as there were three ships in port. They were right and it look about 4.5 hours before we got into our stateroom. They must have three ships there all the time so why don't the cruise lines work with US border protection/immigration to ensure a smoother/faster process - far from acceptable! There may be tricks/early boarding/fast track etc. but if so we still don't know of any. Our veranda stateroom was fine albeit a little compact. We had an issue whereby all of these cabins were stated all over HAL literature as having baths and showers whereas our didn't have a bath. We got fobbed off several times by the front desk with them coming up with various random excuses. In the end we got some compensation. All the meals were excellent. the main dining room was great for breakfast and dinner and were tried all three of the paid for restaurants too, along with the lido deck pizza and hamburger units. We weren't impressed with the lido casual/serve yourself dining area and I cannot understand why it was so popular apart from being much faster than the service variants. Service in the restaurants, bars and stateroom was all first class. Administration was a bit dodgy as our online running statement was regularly incorrect due to being charged for drinks although we had a beverage package and also for some meals, which meant more unwanted time in the front office - quite commonplace given the number of others there with queries. The daytime and evening entertainment was pretty good and we went to some talks, did the trivia quiz went to the evening shows and listened to the really good musical acts in the various bars. We went on excursions each time (3 in total) the ship docked, our favourite being the White Pass summit road/rail trip from Skagway. They were all good , including glaciers and the lumberjack show. The week on board was about right for us. Disembarking was much slicker and relatively painless. Things not so good : The wifi is expensive so we didn't bother with it and picked up free Wi-Fi in port. When you buy the drinks package both people in the cabin have to pay for it even if one of then doesn't drink. I understand that they think we'll just buy two drinks every time but next time I'll think more carefully about it. Also on this deal you can't get a bottle of wine, only by the glass (albeit it lots but not very elegant). Additionally a drink from the mini bar isn't included, it's extra. Finally if you buy a $10 dollar drink (limit is $9 per drink) you can't pay the $1 excess, you have to pay the whole amount. having said that we re happy with the choices. There' nothing special about the gala nights - just people getting dressed up to go to the same restaurant. For us it just meant jamming more clothes into our suitcases and hauling them all the way from the UK. All in though - very enjoyable and may well go on another cruise one day - maybe the Baltic next time.............. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We took this New Year's Cruise with our granddaughters . It was a great getaway from work and winter. Embarkment was very fast and smooth. Our room was ready when we got on board about 12 noon. Kids couldn't wait to get ... Read More
We took this New Year's Cruise with our granddaughters . It was a great getaway from work and winter. Embarkment was very fast and smooth. Our room was ready when we got on board about 12 noon. Kids couldn't wait to get in the pool and made friends really fast. This was our 4th cruise with Holland America and it was a lot younger crowd than we usually see , more diversified like Royal Caribbean. It being during holidays brought on more families . Food was good . Ate in main dining room and buffet mostly. Did the pizza once. It wasn't to my liking but Dh did. Loved all the port of calls but Falmouth . It was third world country for sure and we took ship tour to a beach. Not a pretty beach and food was expensive and ended up throwing it in trash as it was so bad. Grand Cayman was wonderful. Went to turtle farm and went snorkeling with those giant turtles. It was the best time . Kids got in small holding tank and held the turtles. Roatan we went on private tour and went to sloth sanctuary where we held a sloth named Dori. Oldest granddaughter was in Heaven ! She is an animal lover through and through. Cozomel we did Playa Mia for about 5 hours. Got sunburn but it was so worth it. Don't care for beach as sand is coarse so your feet sink into sand quite a bit and makes it hard to walk on the beach. Pools were great and kids loves the children's water area. Key West we just did the Hop on / Hop off bus without actually hopping off . We did the loop. Disembarkment went well and we went straight to airport unfortunately as this was the day of the Ft. Lauderdale airport shooting. We were safe but caught up in evaluation. Ended up renting car for extremely over priced amount to get home. Either that or wait 4 days to fly. The road it was . Home again, home again jiggity jog. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
The service and food was up to Holland Americas standard. The shows in the Theater, had alot to be desired. For a 14 day cruise,I expected more from this cruiseline. Mediocre productions repeated the second week. Majicians and comedians ... Read More
The service and food was up to Holland Americas standard. The shows in the Theater, had alot to be desired. For a 14 day cruise,I expected more from this cruiseline. Mediocre productions repeated the second week. Majicians and comedians twice both weeks. The most outstanding entertainment was The BB Kings Band in the Queens lounge. On Wed, when they would have a night off, it was truly dead on the ship. If you enjoyed classical, there was the Adaggio grp playing. The cruise director,didnt have a team to work with. Ive come to think, thats why there werent many fun onboard activities. There was LaLa and Abigail-the DJ. This is the first cruise ive ever been on, that the Dj did more than play music. The "sail away parties,"were nothing more than a makeshift bar set up on the aft deck, with musaq being piped in over the speakers. No Dj playing, no live band! NO PARTY!! The music trivia game was fun, all 10 minutes of it. The sandbag toss game was ok, for about 15minutes or so. The ship sailed on Sunday,by Saturday night at 11p, there was absolutely nothing happening onboard. We were told that since some passengers were on for only 7 days, they shut everything down early. Ummm, excuse me, There are alot of passengers onboard for the entire 14 days!! Are we being sent to bed at 11p? Ive been on a few HAL cruises, This is my first experience like this. The ports of call were nice, enjoyable even. The activities onboard were very much lacking. The captain of this vessel was not seen by quite a few of us passengers, but the cruise director was always,"In bahalf of the captain"yada yada yada. You would hear a recording of sea facts from our invisible captain. Mariners luncheon,..stil no captain, the cruise director instead. Service was wonderful, staff is amazing,yet shortstaffed at times. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We took this cruise 25 years ago (but on the Westerdam) and what we found interesting was that we paid the same dollar amount. This knowledge couldn't help but be a factor. That it could be done at all for the same price seemed ... Read More
We took this cruise 25 years ago (but on the Westerdam) and what we found interesting was that we paid the same dollar amount. This knowledge couldn't help but be a factor. That it could be done at all for the same price seemed amazing, so we had to be realistic and accept that everything couldn't be the same. There had to have been some cost cutting measures along the way. I think these have been done thoughtfully. Embarkation was more time consuming, similar to airport check in. I did wonder if some older people would find the amount of standing around and walking between large halls to be tedious or difficult. Our cabin window was a fully obscured by a lifeboat although we still had a light and a peek-a-boo view. It was only $30 more than an inside so we felt it was a reasonable exchange. I liked the love seat so there was somewhere to sit. We could hear music or conversation from a public room on another floor. I presume it travelled through the ventilation system. We didn't find it disturbing to go to sleep to the sound of music but some might. I recall that Alaska King crab legs were on the menu in the main dining room in the past; today it is necessary to go to the Pinnacle Restaurant for that. There were next to no props for the stage shows but rather a light show displayed various items and pieces of furniture. The band did not accompany the dancers; the music was a recording. The portions in the main dining room were sometimes very small. I wonder if food waste over the years is a consideration. We could always order more. I recall the 3 scallop appetizers where the scallops were about the size of a dime. The strawberry mousse dessert was the size of a meringue cookie and the Seafood Terrine appetizers perhaps the size of an American half dollar in width. Generally the food was very good, not outstanding, but very good. We travelled with our young grandchildren and they found the one and a half hours that the meal took trying at times. Often they would go through half the bread basket before the first course arrived. But the serving staff was very solicitous and the supervisor would come around regularly with magic tricks or origami displays to amuse them. The BB King Blues band was very good and popular. We couldn't get seating the first time and another time only one person got a seat. We wanted to take our grandchildren to the ABBA evening in one of the lounges (Northern Lights) but there was a sign that it was only for over 18's so we didn't go in. The kids liked the pool and often it wasn't too crowded. We babysat a few times and they enjoyed watching one of the children's movies available on a large mounted television screen. We would have liked some short children's programs but there weren't any of those. Holland America obviously has no control over this but it seems to be that the destinations have suffered from having four or five cruise ships turn up every day for four or five months. I've heard of the same thing in Caribbean destinations. Places like Ketchikan and Juneau become streets full of souvenir shops. We didn't take any excursions as most seemed to be more active/athletic than we were looking for. I think if you took one in each port you could easily double the cost of your cruise. There wasn't that much to do on board on Port days which was three of the days. I appreciated that we could sit in a lounge without being pressed to order a drink. Compared to the library on the Queen Victoria (Cunard) this one didn't seem to have much organization and not the same volume of books. I did find one book that enjoyed reading. This was our fourth Alaska cruise and we only decided to go a few weeks before to spend time with our son and his family and assist them with their two small children. I do think this cruise, like many others, is a very good value. It is possible to spend as much or as little as you want in addition to the fare unlike resorts or hotels which seem to tag on various resort fees and housekeeping expenses in addition to the published charge. We noticed that Glacier Bay was warmer and the icebergs small compared to 25 years ago. We didn't see the glacier calving that we had previously and also less wildlife. I suspect he constant cruise traffic leads wildlife to find other locations and routes. I noticed a more casual appearance on this cruise by the passengers. On formal night, polo shirts and slacks were acceptable attire for men and I noticed more than one man, on the second 'gala' night, in shorts, a logo T shirt and baseball cap. Unlike, Cunard, there was no ballroom dancing. I used to like to watch the ten or twelve talented couples weave around the dance floor every night but most people stayed off the floor. I don't think we'll go to Alaska again but we'll go on more cruises and likely some at least with Holland America. The prices are very good compared to resort vacations and if you can get a few perks like included gratuities or cabin credits thrown in, so much the better. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The food and eating areas were clean, efficient and well run. They offered pleasant surroundings with efficient, hard working and friendly staff. We ate in the Lido, the common eating area and we impressed by it - much better than the ... Read More
The food and eating areas were clean, efficient and well run. They offered pleasant surroundings with efficient, hard working and friendly staff. We ate in the Lido, the common eating area and we impressed by it - much better than the 'trough' we had experienced on a different cruise. We also ate at two of the fine dining areas and both were excellent. Our accommodation with very good. It was bigger than we thought it might be and the cleaners did a great job of keeping the room and bathroom clean and neat. We have had other experiences on different cruise lines and were not very impressed. So it was a very pleasant surprise to experience the Holland America organisation. The drinks packages were also surprisingly reasonable with a 1 litre bottle of gin and two cans of tonic for $33 Canadian dollars. The organisation of the ship allowed a lot of areas where we could sit quietly and talk if we wanted to, but also offered other areas where quiet music was played or more upbeat stuff was played. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was the third cruise for both my wife and me. All three have been on Holland America ships. Embarkation: The process went smoothly as expected. We had one hiccup somewhat of our own doing where our two children, 9 and 11, both ... Read More
This was the third cruise for both my wife and me. All three have been on Holland America ships. Embarkation: The process went smoothly as expected. We had one hiccup somewhat of our own doing where our two children, 9 and 11, both had low grade fevers. It took about 20-30 minutes to get a ships doctor into the processing area to evaluate our kids before boarding, but we'd probably wait that long in a typical clinic. Once we were cleared to board, our room was ready and clean. Service: I need to qualify that we made a number of requests that go beyond the ordinary for a cruise crew to accommodate. Our son has numerous food allergies. On the first day or two, they struggled to come up with food that avoided his allergens that he would eat. After they got the hang of it, though, they came up with numerous options, even desserts that he could have. They made sure we had the menu for the next day and could preorder. The wine steward had a new puzzle for the kids to figure out every night which made them feel special among a typically older clientele. Beverage service by the pool took a bit longer than we remembered from our previous cruise aboard the Eurodam. Requests for extra towels were answered in just a few minutes. One evening, our son got sick in the room and the room stewards were there within 5 minutes to clean up. In room dining orders were on-time. A request for an extension cord for my CPAP was fulfilled almost immediately. The barista at the Explorer's Cafe could remember both our names and our "usual" within a couple of days. When she'd see us in other areas of the ship, she knew our names. One of the dining officers not only got us into the upscale Pinnacle Grille (after being told they were booked), but was able to make arrangements so our kids could eat with us, stating "it's the least we can do". We had a few billing issues that needed to be disputed after the trip and a dress my wife sent off for cleaning had to be sent back. Otherwise, we felt the service was up to HAL par. The shows we attended were all great, from the "On Tour" group to the juggling comedian...or comedic juggler if you prefer. Half Moon Cay was again our favorite stop and all aspects went according to plan including our clamshell rentals, food and beverage. Grand Turk was the least favorite of our stops which also included Amber Cove in the Dominican (our stop in Key West was canceled due to a weather related situation). Amber Cove is beautiful and our excursion to Ocean World is one we will always remember. Communication was stellar. We never felt like we didn't know what was going on and the captain and cruise director went into technical detail as to why we could not leave Amber Cove until about 13 hours after our scheduled departure due to gale force winds perpendicular to the ship, which exceeded the ships crosswind maneuvering component. We had a beverage package included in our trip and never did see an unexpected charge for a beverage. I read another review about the fitness center being just a set of non-adjustable Precor machines. The fitness center had everything my fitness center at home has...free weights, treadmills, steps, floor mats and more than enough machines for a full workout. All-in-all, it was an excellent cruise with only a few things that prevent me from a full 5-star rating. Multiple HAL employees felt compelled to assist with our son's food allergy situation and our ad hoc requests were all taken care of. We felt very "at home" as repeat HAL cruisers and we put a deposit down for our next HAL cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
I title this "special cruise" because it was a burial cruise for my late husband's ashes. My 2 daughters, one of their husbands, and my two grandsons as well as a couple with whom we traveled were on this cruise. We each ... Read More
I title this "special cruise" because it was a burial cruise for my late husband's ashes. My 2 daughters, one of their husbands, and my two grandsons as well as a couple with whom we traveled were on this cruise. We each had Neptune Suite (other than the other couple), and the two Concierge in the Nepune Lounge were outstanding, Carena and Patricia. I reported to them upon my arrival on the ship and they were prepared to meet with me. The burial was to be the next day, and I was kept informed every so often during the day as to what time this special occasion would take place. When given the time, I met them in the Lounge and we were escorted to the Mooring Deck by the Security Crew. We had a very small ceremony, and it was so memorable. The staff on the entire ship were wonderful. The boarding process in Fort Lauderdale was very smooth. I like the way that the muster was conducted as you reported directly to your boat station. I do wish they would scan your card when you reported which would eliminate the room calling for those who did not report to the officer in charge. I was disappointed in the main dining room (both food and service) and ate there only once in a week. We were also disappointed in the food in the Pinnacle; however, on the other hand, the food was outstanding in Tamarind, and we ate there almost every night. I was shocked not to see that restaurant full all of the time. The meal we had in Cannaleto was very good as well--just a lot of food. Our family spent time on the deck, and it never seemed to be overcrowded. I spent a lot of time in the Windows 10 seminars, which were excellent. She is a beautiful ship, and the staff was excellent, particularly our Concierge and the staff at the Reception Desk. Disembarkation at the ports seemed to operate very smoothly. I would definitely sail her again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some ... Read More
Having only cruised with Celebrity Cruise Line before we were a little apprehensive sailing with Holland America. We needn't have worried. Overall I would say that I just about preferred it to Celebrity but accept this may in some way be due to the fact that having sailed on the same class of ship for four years perhaps I'm just a bit bored with the same look, style etc. The ship was smart and well maintained, embarkation and debarkation both went well. The food, in my opinion, was slightly better on the HAL although I would have liked to have seen more variety. There didn't appear to be as much selection at breakfast than you get on the Celebrity but it was still more than adequate. Some reviewers have complained that as you cannot help yourself that the portions you get served are small. This is true however I found that you just ask for more and they give it to you so it really isn't a problem. One other area where Celebrity are better is that they have a coffee bar that serves different types of coffee in proper cups and glasses right up to midnight. I used this facility at the end of virtually every night. HAL have a bar that sells coffee in paper cups but only until 10pm which means if you want a coffee before going to bed you had to go back to your room and order room service. Stateroom was good with plenty of storage and the stateroom attendant was like a Ninja. If you left the room, walked to the lift, realised you had forgotten something and returned to the room, it had been cleaned !!!!! Demographic was a bit old but that may have been due to the time of year, we have never been on holiday at the end of September before. It wasn't exactly like "The march of the living dead", in fact most were quite spritely however I'm 54 which, let's face it, isn't young but I felt like a teenager compared to most of the other passengers. The overall age group on board may also have been the reason why in the evening the main bars were empty and laking in any atmosphere at all. It was as if we were the only people on board at times. There were exceptions however. The BB King Bar was great, fantastic music and singers, my favourite bar. The piano bar also had some good nights as well. Entertainment was poor. On introducing the comedian they mentioned that he had written for the BBC, I think they meant to say that he had written TO the BBC. He was poor unless you like material from the 70's. The only funny jokes we're recycled Tommy Cooper classics. But like the dancers and singers in the shows you can understand why they are working on cruise ships. But good luck to them, they are making a living. The quality of the tours were the same as on the Celebrity, probably because they all use the same shore organisations. What I didn't like about HAL is that if you cancelled your tour you were charged a 10% cancellation fee however if you cancelled less than three days in advance you had a 100% cancellation fee. On Celebrity you could cancel without charge unto 24 hours before the tour. Drinks package is not worth it. This was the first time we didn't take it and we saved money and still had a drink when ever we wanted. Transfers if your port is Venice - DON'T BUY THE HAL TRANSFERS. The transfers cost £126 per person, so £252. We bought them as we were told that this was "door to door" - yer right !! When we arrived in Venice we had to walk with our cases for about 15 minutes to reach the coach. We later found out that a taxi would have cost 45 Euro total each way, a saving of around £180 probably. Despite any negative comments I have made above, we did enjoy the cruise and overall I would say that our experience was just slightly better than that we have had on the Celebrity Line but only by the smallest of margins, not a lot in it at all. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a ... Read More
This was our second HAL cruise, and the first one was nearly flawless. On this trip, our group really felt like we were being gauged for extras or being sold more services. This took away from the relaxation factor of the cruise and was a sore spot with us, so I am downgrading to just very good. My basis for "very good" (instead of average rests on the great service from most of the staff. The Main Dining Room, Room Staff and Security Staff were excellent as usual, and in our opinion, are the feather in the cap of HAL. Just as kind and helpful as could be, as per usual. And on this trip, the Front Office Staff was also great, and I think they have one of the toughest jobs on the ship, judging from the cranky/rude customers they had to deal with on a daily basis. Never ceases to amaze me how nasty some people on vacation can be to the hardworking and low paid staff. I did also note that on this cruise, there were multiple folks who had nasty accidents (falls) while in different ports. Several actually left the ship with their injuries, and several had to seriously curtail their activities due to stitches, wounds, strains and bruises. Busted noses, busted knees, splinted arms.... I have to admit, my group was on high alert, as looking up at all the beautiful old sites while walking on old cobble stones and irregular steps is a bad combination. We all had some very close calls and stumbles in different cities, but I am happy to report that we all survived unscathed. If you are unsteady, I recommend a walking stick or cane, and a steady companion who can back you up. We also felt that younger people were generous in their description of "easy walk" or our favorite "only 5 minutes to get there". We found that "5 minutes" loosely translated, usually means 20 minutes, 200 uneven stairs, and 80 degree heat, all up hill. When selecting shore excursions, stick to the easy exertion levels if you are challenged. We heard many complaints from folks who could not keep up. One of our party cannot walk for long, and we were very sensitive to this issue. This is also another reason we prefer private excursion tours, as they can easily cater to any physical issues and usually get a lot closer parking than a tour bus. Well worth it in the end. Herma, Francis and Irfan in F/B were stellar in every way, as were our Room Staff, whose names escape us at this point. Also,we usually eat breakfast in our room, and almost everyday we received a call making sure that the breakfast met our needs. It arrived correctly and on time every single day! We found the embarkation and disembarkation nearly flawless on this trip, with no lines whatsoever on either end. We were amazed and pleased. We arrived at 2:15, with a 3:00pm deadline. On Disembarkation, we were in the 8:30-8:45am time slot. Half our group carried off our luggage, half did not, all did fine with the exception of a damaged wheel on a suitcase. We stayed in a Verandah Suite, 8008, on the Nav deck. Room was great. This room is directly across from a staff facility room, so the door opens and closes all night long, and some staff members are a little loud. Generally this did not bother us, but might bother some. This room is also directly under the Greenhouse Spa, generally not an issue unless they are rearranging things at closing time. Room as promised, clean, neat. Glad HAL does not allow smoking in cabins any more. (But some staff do smoke in some of the service rooms, which can't possibly be permissible.) My big room gripe? Cabin neighbors who smoke on their Verandahs and or those who don't understand the concept of closing a door softly. Ours let their balcony door slam every single time, or those who "drag" their balcony furniture around. Petty, I know,I know, but it makes me nuts. Getting off my soap box..... We did not personally partake in any entertainment, but 2 of our group did, and overall, they enjoyed it. Apparently, a few hits, a few misses, but overall good reviews. We did peek in on the BB King lounge, and it sounded great. Show cast seemed really sweet. I only used the gym once, but found it to be nice, with good options. I like to also walk the promenade deck. We only took 2 shore excursions, as we try hard to avoid them. Both were well organized and delivered as promised. Both were more of a scenic drive with brief stops where you could go it alone or stay with a guide. We did "Nice and EZE" tour and the Provence Les Maurers (?) tour. We would recommend both, and the price was good. Generally, we arrange our own private tours through local guides, as we can customize the itinerary as maximize the time in port, for less money. We also prefer to avoid standing around waiting for others to come back to the bus. We also get to avoid the "herd" experience. Again, I know it's my personal issue, but I find that some people on the excursions are beyond rude, and it makes me nuts. On the above mentioned excursions, one man and his wife felt the need to carry on loud independent group comments and conversations as the guide was trying to give us the history, all while they stood smack in the middle of the group. We all know how hard it is to hear the guides on a good day, especially for the folks who may be hard of hearing or more elderly. This same man felt the need to make several scathing remarks about how the French wouldn't be here without Americans, blah blah blah. My Vietnam Vet brother-in-law quickly shut him down. Okay...getting off my soap box..... We were in port with a "megaship" on a few occasions, and the crowds of shore excursions were unreal, they were all over, and there were a ton of them. This occurred in Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi on a national holiday in Italy, and traffic was a mess. As a result, 23 passengers on a non-HAL excursion did not make it back to our ship, which left without them. They did make it to the next port. Luckily we did a private tour, and our driver was constantly being updated on traffic, and devised an alternate route for us. Tender operations were very smooth, very well run, no issues at all. They did a great job of handing out numbers and getting everyone smoothly loaded in. Again, very well organized on this trip. Staff was great, Security was on task and efficient. They seemed very helpful to passengers needing additional assistance. I will say that our group felt that everything was a sales pitch, and this was a big negative for us. Art "auction", photos, behind the scenes tours, Thermal Spa, spa products, etc. On the barbecue night, drinks were offered up by waiters walking around with trays of pre-made cocktails. If you say yes, beware...because if it is in a swanky plastic HAL cup, that cup costs $3.95 MORE than the regular drink. They fail to mention this until the bill comes. Items of tchatkes and souvenirs are always being hawked on the ship. It never ends. Loved being able to take many sunset shots from the 10th/11th floor decks, while lounging in chairs, watching the sun go down. We did not partake in internet service packages. They are as slow as ever, and still expensive. I would like to see HAL upgrade this and follow the lead of hotels with free wi-fi. Or at least improve the quality of the service, if for a fee. We relied on free wi-fi on shore, which was usually available and fairly reliable. Venice was probably the most difficult place to find consistent free wi-fi. The barbecue night was good, but the seating was chaos. And getting non-alcoholic beverages served took forever, we made 3 requests, then finally got up and went in to the Lido restaurant and got our own. Food was good, lines were really long. (They close one of the Main Dining Room floors on this night). I would skip this next time, especially if traveling with older or less mobile friends. Great experience: We booked a Cabana Club corner cabana on our At Sea day, and it was well worth the $115, at least to us. Lovely, quiet, clean, comfortable. Plenty of room for all 4 of us. 2 big double loungers, and a dining table and chairs for 4. We were given fruit, water, and Evian mist. They took our lunch order (although a bit late, it was after 1), brought us food, served champagne and then chocolate covered strawberries in the afternoon. All this was included. A few points: information on the pricing and booking of the cabanas was sketchy online, and we could not book until we were on board. This is the first thing I did when I got on board. (I thought they would sell out quickly, but there were still empty cabanas on the At Sea day.) The flier provided at the front desk seemed old, as some of the items were not in evidence. It stated that we would actually have a food spread at the cabana club, which we did not. It stated that we would be served ice cream, we were not. It stated that we would receive some additional Greenhouse Spa discounts, but we did not. While these are certainly not deal breakers, I am just pointing out that it was not quite up to date. That being said, still great. And nothing prevents you from going down to Lido and getting food/snacks on your own, but again, they do take your order and deliver to your cabana for no additional charge. *Note, the Lido cabanas are much smaller, and sit on the Lido deck right next to the other diners. Different experience altogether, not private, not open to the ocean. Spend the extra money and get the Cabana Club size. There is also an open area among these larger cabanas to sit or lay in the sun as well. Great place to quietly lunch, read, relax, nap in the (fully shaded) gorgeous sea air. Worth it! HAL allowed 1 bottle of wine for each person at embarkation, but we only brought one, from Barcelona. For us, they used the honor system, and did not actually check our totes, but instead they just asked us if we had alcohol. We told them we had one bottle of wine, but they never even looked to see what we had. We also found that we could pre-order alcohol online from HAL for our room, and honestly, pricing was not that bad, and the bottles were huge, much larger than we anticipated. And easier than trying to "sneak" it on board. We did not come close to finishing our Skyy or Jack Daniels. We also inadvertently brought more alcohol on board during shore excursions. (Not thinking, we bought souvenirs of Limoncello and Sangria in silly little souvenir bottles, which sailed right through security without mention). Only later did we realize what we had done. We also had a small mini bottle of wine for our after-kayak trip, bought in town, that we never drank. This too was brought back on board and never discovered. We ended up giving away much of the alcohol we had purchased, but as a plus, also did not spend much money on onboard cocktails. The drink packages are also a good way to save on cocktails and soft drinks, if you will consume them. We loved our Main Dining Room experience. I have a food allergy, and they were great, giving me a custom menu to order from in advance. Consistent service, quality and experience every time. They even had the chef make me a special dessert based on one that I really liked on embarkation night. Really nice! They never disappointed us, really great. We are all carrying the extra weight to prove it. We dined at Pinnacle one time, and it was not up to the usual par. First, it is impossible to book reservations for more than 2 people at a time online. So, if you have a larger group, you need to re-arrange the reservation when you get on the ship to get all people in your party at the same table. When doing so, the Maitre D was very "put out" and stated that rearranging 3 separate tables for 4 people into one table for 4 was going to be "difficult". (Really?) Somehow, he managed to survive this hugely difficult chore, lol. He was honestly the only grouch we encountered among the staff on this ship and apparently other ship staff are aware of his reputation. Interesting to note that on the day we actually dined, the restaurant was half empty, and service was still slow. Our prior Pinnacle experience was awesome, (save for the fact that they fed me my food allergen after insisting it was fine) but not this one. They were slow, dishes sat on the table a long time, and quality was iffy. It took over an hour to get one iced tea, and we still never got the tea for 2 others at the table. Food was brought to the table lukewarm, and one party received a really salty entree. The waiter argued with us on all points, including the salty fish. He lectured our friend that if she could not eat salt, she should have told him up front. (She CAN eat salt, it's not her fault they over-salted the recipe) Only when the chef actually tasted the fish did they admit we were right, but the waiter never apologized. Well over an hour after sitting down they then offered a substitute for the fish. We had had enough at that point and were ready to leave. I actually timed the service issues on my phone, once service started going down hill. He argued with me about how long it took to get the tea. This was caused by his misunderstanding...he sent the wine steward to us for the tea. She was delayed, and when we told her we only wanted tea, she dropped the ball. Listen, we all have "off days", but being lectured and argued with at the table is not cool. They finally deducted two of the meals, but I had requested a refund on all four and did not get it. In retrospect, Tamarind was highly recommended, and I wish we had eaten there instead. In good faith, other cruisers we spoke to at at Pinnacle several times on this cruise, and did not have any issues. But I would be reluctant to eat here again. Main Dining Room was a great experience for us as usual, we will stick with them. We did not use the laundry service this time, although we have used it in the past and it is very good. We washed our own stuff in our room, as there is no laundromat on this ship. One of our group did use the bag service, $30 per bag, and he got his clothes back within 24 hours. Greenhouse Spa was good overall. I splurged big time and booked acupuncture, a pedicure, and a hot rock massage. The acupuncture doctor was really good, but came back in to the treatment room several times to pressure me to purchase $1000 more in treatments over the remaining days of the cruise. This completely ruined the "relaxation" treatment that I had requested. I work in the corporate world, so I am used to high pressure sales people, but this was way over the top. I had to literally stop her from "booking me in, just to save the appointment slot" on subsequent treatments. She literally had the port schedule in front of her, telling me when I would have "free time" to schedule these appointments. I should have actually requested a refund on this treatment, in retrospect, including the automatic tip. Additionally, the treatment room was right off the LIDO exit and elevators, being really busy and loud, and you could hear two separate PA/music systems being piped in. My pedicure was wonderful, thanks to Isabella. She was sweet, and the fire and ice hot rock pedi was delightful after all the walking around. I had mentioned the "hard sell" acupuncture appointment, so perhaps she laid off of selling anything. I highly recommend this, and Isabella was fabulous. My hot rock massage was EXCELLENT, and could not have been nicer. No sales pressure here, either. I highly recommend this treatment. *I booked all my spa treatments in advance online, because I wanted them to occur on At Sea days/mornings. Otherwise, I would recommend that you wait to book any spa services, because there are always discounts later in the cruise. Had I waited, I could have saved 20-30% for services, but again, I wanted very specific time spots. If you have more flexability, wait until you are onboard to book. My husband also had the hot rock massage, and loved it, but he was upsold on products, which he did not buy. I would have loved to experience the thermal room/spa/pool, but the pricing was exorbitant. Based on the spa service prices, HAL should allow you the use of the these features on the days that you purchase a full price spa treatment, just like every other spa in the world. $40 per day is ridiculous after spending $500 on spa services. Looked nice, but I was not going to pay for this. I recall that this did not used to be so expensive. Overall, a great trip, made so by the staff of HAL. Easy embarkation and disembarkation were a huge plus, very well organized. We really enjoy the size of the HAL ships, as it makes things more manageable and personal. We are averse to the megaships, just can't imagine being on a ship with 4000 passengers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We sailed Jan 4 with a group of 20 ranging from 1 to 70+. The highlight for me was the food, which was very good. We ate all but two nights in main dining room and were very happy with the food, especially lobster and escargot. We had ... Read More
We sailed Jan 4 with a group of 20 ranging from 1 to 70+. The highlight for me was the food, which was very good. We ate all but two nights in main dining room and were very happy with the food, especially lobster and escargot. We had breakfast daily at Lido, which was very good. I loved the made to order eggs benedict and crepes. Lunch at the Lido buffet was very good as well, especially the Asian station. We did lunch one day at Tamarind and were disappointed. Dinner at Tamarind, on the other hand, was excellent and should not be missed. We did one dinner at Pinnacle Grill, which was so-so, probably would skip that if we were to do again. We were very disappointed with the entertainment and children's programming. We hoped to enjoy the food theater, but on our only time there they had technical difficulties and couldn't operate the stove. With the exception of "Recycled Percussion", which was very good, singers and dancers were sub-par-felt like high school drama show. Children's programming consisted largely of supervised video games & ice cream breaks, which our kids enjoyed, but as a parent we were hoping for more. The ship is nice, but there did not seem like there were many activities/programming. Everyday we'd check the daily planner and there was nothing there for us. We swam in the pools and wanted to use the hot tubs, but they were closed much of the cruise to fight a small outbreak of sickness (none of us were infected). I found the sauna on the last day, which was small but nice: I wish I had found that sooner. We chose this cruise for the price (kids free) and the ports (Half moon cay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Key West) both of which were very good, but were disappointed with entertainment & kids activities. We really enjoyed beach and BBQ at Half moon cay and enjoyed stingrays & turtle farm in Grand Cayman. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I booked this cruise at the last minute to attend an educational conference held on the cruise. The conference room was not very comfortable because of the seats and the noise from the group next door. I sailed with my 9 year-old ... Read More
I booked this cruise at the last minute to attend an educational conference held on the cruise. The conference room was not very comfortable because of the seats and the noise from the group next door. I sailed with my 9 year-old son. He was not impressed with Club Hal and staff. He made 2 good friends on board and spent most of the cruise hanging out with his friends away from Club Hal. There was always plenty of room in the pool and hot tubs. The pool seemed heated which which made for comfortable swimming. My son broke his arm on the ship while playing soccer. The medical clinic and crew were wonderful. They checked on us several times during the cruise, making sure he was doing ok and didn't need anything. We did not dine in the main dining room for dinner and ate almost exclusively at the Lido cafeteria style restaurant. The food was outstanding. Lots of variety. You could eat steak every night if you wanted. It seemed like some of the apps and entrees were the same as what was served in the main dining room. One of my favorite spaces on the ship was the library. They have a wonderful selection of books and magazines. It has a nice coffee bar with yummy treats. I loved all the fresh flowers on the ship. Every room service order came with fresh flowers. The entertainment and stage is top-notch. We sure enjoyed all the shows we saw. The ship has a cozy movie theatre which plays a different movie daily. We have cruised Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival previously. This Holland cruise hosted mostly elderly passengers, which provides the ship with a much different feel. I felt that many were not happy to see children on the cruise. I do not think I would cruise Holland with my children again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Nieuw Amsterdam Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.5 3.5
Public Rooms 4.5 4.4
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 4.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.7
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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